Revegetation for Victorian koalas in 2024

koala tree nursery 2024

By Janine Duffy

On a calm, cool evening in late May 2024, I looked down at our tiny koala tree nursery at the base of the Brisbane Ranges escarpment west of Melbourne, Victoria. Long benches held around 10,000 native plants ready for revegetation projects. They ranged from River Red Gum Eucalyptus camaldulensis half a metre tall, a seedling that could become a 35m tree still living in the year 2524, to tiny Golden Daisies Brachyscome dentata only 3cm high.

The evening reflected my mood. Calm. Ready.

A single large male Eastern Grey Kangaroo came out of the bush behind me, and hopped with ease and grace down the hill. He was in no hurry either.

Facing our biggest season of revegetation for Victorian koalas, I was surprised at how ready we were. All the trees for our first planting on Sunday June 2 were laid on a separate bench, in trays that were easy to handle on site. They have had their final dose of seaweed conditioner to help with the transplant shock.

In a few days they will be loaded into our huge tree trailer and taken to site, to be set out before the Koala Clancy members arrive on Sunday for planting.

The weeks leading up to this calm evening were busy. Our white ute 1-KOALA made trips to three other nurseries across Victoria to load up the plants required for the first planting. These trees were ordered back in October 2023 – it takes time to grow seedlings for big orders. Every species has different germination conditions and growth rates. Some, like our Western Plains eucalypts, sprout in hot summer temperatures and need six months to grow to the size for optimal planting. Others, like Bursaria spinosa, germinate in winter – so they really need to be ordered a full year before.

1-KOALA at VINC nursery, with our tree trailer in the background.

These days, our orders are big. At least 38,400 native plants will pass through our little Koala Clancy headquarters over winter 2024.

Our nursery also hosted a growing collection of tree guards from past planting sites. We collect these over the summer and autumn, sort them into the reusable and those that need to be broken down and recycled, and bundle them into packs of 200. Doing this we save on our use of plastic, manage the threat of runaway tree guards in waterways, and reduce freight. We also spend our limited funds on great people doing great things, rather than on buying more stuff.

This year, our nursery has a new short term resident – a 7kg bag of native grass seed. This seed will be sprinkled over bare soil around the trees we plant. As long as it rains a little after planting, these should germinate. We’ve always wanted to build in a native grass strategy, and with the help of Native Seeds, who created a custom mix for us, we hope to improve biodiversity even more on our sites.

Our special mix of native Australian grass seeds

My feeling of calm readiness was largely due to our team. Great people keen to work hard to make the world a better place. They are experienced, intelligent and dedicated, and without them we couldn’t look back on 129,000 koala trees we have already planted and the 38,000 to come.

I’d like to thank Eliza, Vanessa, Peta and Hayley for their joyous, smiling determination leading up to this 2024 season of revegetation for koalas. And to all our past staff, for all you’ve done to get us here.

To all our friends, supportive partners and family, Koala Clancy members and community who’ve helped get us ready, thankyou.

Roger and Martien from Walkabout Australia, Netherlands preparing a new shelf for the trailer

Join us this season, we will host a tree planting day most weekends from June to August. And if you can, please donate – we can do a lot with love and time, but big targets need big financial support too. It is worth it – our planet, and our koalas, need these trees today.

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